Religiosity and Risk of Parkinson's Disease in England and the USA

Abidemi I Otaiku

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with low religiosity cross-sectionally. Whether low religiosity might be associated with an increased risk for developing PD is unknown. This study investigated whether low religiosity in adulthood is associated with increased risk for developing PD. A population-based prospective cohort study was conducted. Participants from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Midlife in the United States study who were free from PD at baseline (2004-2011) and completed questionnaires on self-reported religiosity, were included in a pooled analysis. Incident PD was based on self-report. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) for developing PD according to baseline religiosity, with adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, health and lifestyle factors and engagement in religious practices. Among 9,796 participants in the pooled dataset, 74 (0.8%) cases of incident PD were identified during a median follow-up of 8.1 years. In the fully adjusted model, compared with participants who considered religion very important in their lives at baseline, it was found that participants who considered religion "not at all important" in their lives had a tenfold risk of developing PD during follow-up (OR, 9.99; 95% CI 3.28-30.36). Moreover, there was a dose-response relationship between decreasing religiosity and increasing PD risk (P < 0.001 for trend). These associations were similar when adjusting for religious upbringing and when cases occurring within the first two years of follow-up were excluded from the analysis. The association was somewhat attenuated when religious practices were removed from the model as covariates, though it remained statistically significant (OR for "not at all important" vs. "very important", 2.26; 95% CI 1.03-4.95) (P < 0.029 for trend). This longitudinal study provides evidence for the first time that low religiosity in adulthood may be a strong risk factor for developing PD.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Early online date28 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author is funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) academic clinical fellowship. Funding for the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing is provided by the National Institute of Aging [grants 2RO1AG7644-01A1 and 2RO1AG017644] and a consortium of UK government departments coordinated by the Office for National Statistics. The data were made available through the UK Data Service. The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) is sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development, the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166; U19-AG051426), and grants from the General Clinical Research Centers Program (M01-RR023942, M01- RR00865) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR000427). The data were made available through the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • England
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Religiosity
  • Spirituality
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Religious studies


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